Participants in UU classes on building your own theology (BYOT) are encouraged to make a lifetime practice of writing and revising a credo. Any of these credos is a work in progress. Obviously. This is a sequel to a post from last year.
Credo: I believe … that seeing oneself as a separate being is “a kind of optical delusion of … consciousness,” as Einstein said in a letter, and that “striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion.”
Language fills the world with entities and their identities, with you and me, him and her, us and them, this and that, and on and on, each identified as not the other. These mental constructs and the language around them maintain the delusion that there are separate beings.
Words – symbols – and how they relate are mistaken for reality.
You are not what you are known to be. No one is.
What is known is a mental construct. What is not a mental construct is unknown. What cannot be a mental construct is unknowable.
All kinds of constructs – logical, mathematical, scientific, technical, cultural – are mental constructs. And any construct imagined to be real is imagined to be real. It’s all in the mind.
The mind stores a record of thoughts from an imagined past, however recent, used in part to create an imagined future, however immediate, that is added to the record. It’s just a story. But one that grips you.
Only the present is real. And it includes you. The present is not a mental construct and it cannot be a mental construct. It is unknown and unknowable.
This is just how it is. And what to do and how to be are for all to see.
What is in the mind – thoughts from the past that include thoughts of the future – is not reality but a story, however plausible.
But notice this:
… the mind is a sense in itself —Maurice Frydman
The quote is from the translator’s appendix to I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. For more on how to clear the mind, see that appendix, Nisarga Yoga.
With the mind, sense the ever-present thought I am. That is all.
Be still. And open to the timeless source of conscious being.
Seeing any being as a separate being is “a kind of optical delusion of consciousness” and the defining human affliction. It makes humans – and only humans – act in ways that drive species extinct on a grand scale,° and Homo sapiens too is now at risk. At some point, we’re next.
And this delusion is the root of all suffering, the origin of all desires and fears, says the Buddha.
With life’s basic needs met, you want nothing and fear nothing. For yourself. Unless you suffer from this delusion.°
If you are fed, clothed, housed, cared for, accepted and accepting – with judgment suspended – you want or fear nothing. For yourself, that is, unless you imagine the many forms of being are the forms of many beings and you are merely one of them. In other words, unless you suffer from this delusion.
# search on page for wisdom
So it’s a no-brainer to agree that “striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion.”
The way to be free from the delusion, to heal the affliction, to end the suffering is to clear the mind and so see through the delusion to what is really going on.
No one can say what is really going on. It’s not what you think. More than that, it’s not what anyone thinks. Or tells you. It’s beyond words.
You have to see for yourself.
But read the book anyway. You’ll be glad you did.
* * *
This being is what is.
There is nothing other than what is.
Your being is nothing other than this being.
Love says, ‘I am everything.’ Wisdom says, ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two my life flows.”
–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj°
There is being, in all its forms. And there is no other being. There is no such thing as a separate being. Or so I believe. We are being, you and I. We just are.
Enjoy the many forms of being.
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